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AUTISTIC LINCS: A new resource for education?

What about uni/college resources for modern times?

University and college students are back and adapting to the transitional time of the Coronavirus in various ways we have yet again demonstrated the effectiveness of virtual reality. That isn’t just about headsets.

The gaming community has risen to a new prominence in recent months, as if it ever diminished in value, but there is one particular community called Spectrum Gaming which has excelled.

Chris Packham.
Chris Packham.

Andy Smith is a young autistic man in Bury who created the community for autistic gamers in response to lockdown and it has grown incredibly well. Members can share their own content, engage in Minecraft and Fortnite competitions (for example) and make friends.

He is doing tremendous things for the autistic community and recently appeared at an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) session online and talked about masking and the importance of self-acceptance within young people as highlighted as a theme of conversation through interaction with the members of Spectrum Gaming.

It feels redundant to chat about these issues again and again but masking and self-acceptance are omnipresent topics and by having dialogue in these kinds of moments is crucial. It is also using up autistic people’s mental energy to put ourselves in these vulnerable and brave positions.

Spectrum Gaming has, by nature of its existence, worldwide potential and options like Open University courses (online) but bringing it down to local level, I wonder how our educational environments will adapt.

Chris Packham made an interview video for the University of Lincoln in 2018 about his university experiences which I find to be insightful (though his comment on needing to make eye contact doesn’t sit well with me), but rather than analyzing pieces of it, I do acknowledge the power of his interview as a whole.

Chris has been to Gosberton House School too and for someone of his acclaim being so involved in not only two mainstays of the local community, but established centres of information that contribute to discussions around the autistic community, is empowering.

People like Andy and Chris have something in common.

Vulnerability. Autistic people giving back to their communities such as these three examples put their spoons (representation of energy needed for tasks) on the line for a greater good and we need that kind of open representation in universities, colleges and the like.

If you are having to return to the physical aspects of education, self-acceptance is essential which is bred from a culture of openness.

The amount of autistic people that have not disclosed their diagnoses or feel the need to hide in general is shocking and whilst I don’t advocate for people to disclose if not ready, a shift in culture would enable and empower more to do so.

In the meantime, we need to recognise and utilise the virtual realities we have long been apart of, as they undeniably have very real effects on the health and wellbeing of autistic people and neurodivergent people at large.

Ciao for now.

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